I’m not sure whether or not the shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona that left 6 dead and 14 others wounded, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was a result of inflammatory rhetoric in U.S. politics and religion, but undoubtedly hateful rhetoric is unhealthy and uncivil. America is a torch bearer of civility in the world. It is unfitting to hear inflammatory language from our political and religious or ethnic leaders against us as Americans or other nations.
Crimes are committed of racial and religious hatred on a daily basis because of the hateful environment that continues in our society against faiths and races and many preachers love to preach this hatred. According to the FBI, out of 6,604 hate crimes committed in the United States in 2009, some 4,000 were racially motivated and nearly 1,600 were driven by hatred for a particular religion and close to 1500 were because of sexual orientation.
Jews and blacks in particular have been victims of hate crimes in the past. Muslims have become victims of these hate crimes after 9/11. Between one-fourth and one-third of Americans hold negative views of Islam and Muslims today. Internet blogs, radio talk shows, and some cable TV channels are increasingly using harsh language to refer to the Islamic faith. Some religious leaders courted by elected officials and politicians, have called Islam “an evil religion”, or “a wicked religion”, the Prophet Muhammad “a terrorist,” and Muslims “worse than Nazis.”
Because of this inflammatory tone, the occurrence of reported civil rights complaints have increased at mosques and Muslim organizations, rising from 221 cases in 2006 to 564 cases in 2007 10 to 721 cases in 2008. This represents a 28 percent increase from 2007 to 2008. There were 118 reported cases of discrimination in schools in 2007 and 153 in 2008. This represents a 31 percent increase according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations report.
Today the same hateful rhetoric has entered into our political discourse. Some of our electronic and print media and talk shows and some civic leaders as well, do not hesitate to use intolerable language to the extent that the president is not spared too. If this type of environment continues, it would not take too long that politically oriented hate crimes will be added to the category of hate crimes.
Hate crimes are committed in hateful atmosphere. As said: “evil begets evil,” we must clean our environment of all sorts of hate: political, religious, racial, or sexually oriented or other, and commit ourselves to a civil discourse and respectful dialogue to air our differences.